Valley News -

Area voters generally back proposed tax hikes, bond floats


Last updated 11/7/2018 at 10:25am

RIVERSIDE - Measures seeking sales tax increases, bond sales and other revenue-generating sources were largely approved by voters in municipalities and unincorporated communities throughout Riverside County, according to semi-official results released today.

In Wildomar, voters approved a 1 percent transactions and use tax, which the City Council voted unanimously to place on the ballot.

The tax will be separate from existing sales taxes and will apply to any business transaction involving "tangible property,'' according to the measure. Supporters said the levy is vital for public safety, but opponents, identified in campaign literature as residents affiliated with, said the tax will be "placed in the general fund for any municipal purpose'' and will increase costs for virtually everything.

In Murrieta, Measure T was narrowly approved, assuming the tally of outstanding provisional and mail-in ballots doesn't alter the outcome.

It will raise the 7.75 percent sales tax to 8.75 percent. According to supporters, the adjustment will result in an estimated $14 million in additional revenue, helping sustain public safety services.

Murrieta resident Bob Landwehr wrote an opposition statement for the ballot, saying the city's books were balanced and Measure T was an attempt to push through an unnecessary tax.

Roughly 35 miles to the north in Norco, voters backed Measure R, an increase in the municipality's sales tax from 7.75 percent to 8.75 percent.

Supporters stated in campaign literature that the hike would net $4.5 million more in annual income for the city, allowing greater investments in infrastructure upgrades, public safety services and other expenditures to "preserve our Horsetown U.S.A. lifestyle.''

Resident Sigrid Williams wrote in an opposition statement that there has "been a decrease in sales tax revenues over the past few years,'' making it unlikely that a tax increase would produce any of the vaunted windfall.

In Canyon Lake, voters agreed to extend the 3.95 percent utility users tax that went into effect in 2015. Measure S will extend the UUT indefinitely, instead of ending it on Dec. 31, 2020.

According to supporters, the measure ensures that the gated municipality's sole fire station will remain in operation. However, former councilman John Zaitz posted an opposition statement on the ballot saying the city is already forecasting a $538,000 budget deficit in the current fiscal year, leaving no assurance the station can be saved.

The city has struggled with Cal Fire to contain contract costs for emergency services. The firehouse was closed for a year due to the conflict.

Three school bond floats were in voters' control Tuesday, from one end of the county to the other, each requiring 55 percent approval.

Measure W fell short in Homeland, Nuevo and Perris. The measure would have authorized up to $148 million in bonds for the Perris Union High School District.

Funds would cover the cost of constructing a new high school, paying for upgrades to existing academic structures and establishing "career-training facilities'' on campuses, according to campaign material.

Amortizing the bonds would have cost about $30 per $100,000 of assessed value for residential and commercial properties in the district annually.

Lastly, Measure X impacts Aguanga, Anza, Hemet, Idyllwild and Winchester voters, who approved the proposal to authorize $150 million in bonds, benefiting the Hemet Unified School District.

According to campaign documents, funding will go toward upgrades to classrooms and labs, replacement of plumbing and electrical systems at multiple schools and safety improvements.

Paying down the IOUs will cost affected property owners $49 per $100,000 of assessed value on their holdings annually, documents stated.


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